Introducing beautiful Salta, Argentina

June, 2011

Heading north once again across this expansive South American continent, on an overnight bus from Mendoza to beautiful Salta, in Argentina.

Following the last wild bus trip from Chile’s Santiago to Mendoza across the stunning Andes, here we are again, but on a much longer bus journey than the last.

Mendoza, Salta, Argentina, South AmericaThe plan is to try and see the famous arid Atacama Desert for some fabulous star gazing, in the clearest of desert skies, and in the most driest place on earth…


If you find yourself in Mendoza and wanting to head north to Salta, then the comfortable overnight Andesmar bus takes over 19 hours. Don’t believe what the label in the map at right, says – it lies.

Of course as most of the travel is during the night, there isn’t much to see on this journey. So, I suggest you take loads of music, games, and reading material. If you’re anything like me and can’t sleep much on buses, you will get bored.

Also, I’m not a big fan of Spanish dubbed movies with Spanish titles blaring in your ears.

bus terminal, Salta, Argentina, South America
Trusty bus terminal, Salta (our second home)


Founded by the Spanish in 1582 and lying in the Lerma Valley at around 1,152 metres (3,780 feet), this region is famous for wine production and the uncommon Torrontés grape, and is one of Argentina’s oldest cities.

Perhaps a third wine tasting session? The tastings in Santa Cruz, Chile and Mendoza were both excellent.

Salta is also famous for its gorgeous colonial architecture.

Cathedral, Salta, Argentina, South America
Panteón de las Glorias del Norte – cathedral built in 1856 following an earthquake that destroyed the old building

An inside glimpse of the intricate opulence.

Cathedral, Salta, Argentina, South America
Stunning interior commemorates many of Argentina’s heroes

And if you have time and wish to partake…

Salta Cathedral, Salta, Argentina, South America

On a side note, I have noticed many Bolivians here in Salta. Perhaps as Bolivia is the poorest country in South America, borders are crossed for a better life.

Many seem to sell merchandise on the streets and in the parks of Salta. Children as young as five sell arts, crafts, snacks, and trinkets.

trinket seller, Salta, Argentina, South America
Young trinket seller

Salta has a friendly and safe feel – locals are very hospitable.

Salta, Argentina, South America
At home

Other sights in Salta include several theatres and museums.

A shame that I discovered after leaving Salta that one museum exhibits perfectly preserved 500-year-old children bodies, sacrificed to Inca Gods in the Andes – then again, a tad macabre.

Salta, Argentina, South America
Cooking up lunch

Salta hosts art exhibitions, music festivals, parades, shows, and cultural events throughout the year – there seems to always be something happening, each time you take a stroll.

If you’re visiting during the month of April, you are treated with an entire month of extra activities such as a handcraft exposition, and cultural and live orchestral performances, during the April Culture Festival.

Salta, Argentina, South America

As with many areas in South America, Salta hosts a plethora of parades – any excuse for a parade I say, which is a lot of fun for tourists. Though I am pretty sure that parades are not held because of tourists. On the contrary, perhaps it is because of tradition and the love of celebrating…anything.

Makes parties not war.

Gaucho Parade

Greeted by a Gaucho Parade whilst wandering the streets of Salta today, what a show of intriguing solidarity.

Gaucho parade, Salta, Argentina, South America
Transport juxtaposition – stiff rawhide chaps protect against thorns and cacti spines

Gauchos (cowboys) of varying ages parade each year on June 17th in memory of Martín Miguel de Güemes, the national hero that fought for independence back in the early 1800s.

Gaucho parade, Salta, Argentina, South America
Handsom Gaucho

This event begins the night before at the Güemes monument and as an all-night vigil, ends with the parade at the base of San Bernardo Hill, with local and national Gauchos wearing the traditional red and black outfits.

Gaucho parade, Salta, Argentina, South America

This is a fantastic colourful and proud spectacle for any local or tourist as it is not tourist-driven, but an important traditional event.

Salta, Argentina, South America
Not in the parade but aptly dressed

Bolivian music parade

Today we stumbled on a lovely musical show in the park with young Bolivian artists. These free events are always great to pass hours away indulging in local activities, whilst waiting on a bus verdict to the Atacama.

Bolivian artist, Salta, Argentina, South America

Beautiful South American faces of which I can’t but help to take photos of, regardless of the focus.

Bolivian artist, Salta, Argentina, South America
Young musician

Stunning day trip on the Tren a las Nubes

When in Salta, you must indulge in the Tren a las Nubes’ day trip, which is an amazing trip through the clouds, on a train.

The day is nothing short of spectacular and such a special trip that I’ve dedicated a whole post to the day’s experience – hope you enjoy the read.

Salta saga

Things don’t always go smoothly when you’re on the road, right?

Have you ever visited travel blogs that paint a flawless rosy picture of everything always going to plan, or fantastically well, or the perfect trip? Either these travellers are extremely lucky and nothing ever goes wrong for them, which I find unbelievable after 30-plus years of travel, or their portrayal is not entirely sincere. What do you think?


With the intention of only staying in Salta long enough to organise a bus to the Atacama Desert, with every day that passes, the sinking feeling of never getting there is fast becoming reality.

Daily trips to our trusty bus station to hear all sorts of excuses of why buses to the border are cancelled, are waning thin.

The snow is too deep. The wind is too strong. The weather is much too dangerous…but only at the border. Perhaps it’s because this border crossing is at over 4,000 metres high, so subject to extreme weather conditions.

This journey back across the Andes and descending down into the Chilean side of San Pedro de Atacama, is said to be spectacular.

Needing another travel plan as we can’t stay in Salta forever and with the Atacama an ever-fading dream, then crossing overland into Bolivia is the next option.

Bus to Chilean border

Today however, a stroke of luck!

The bus is actually leaving and so, we wait at the bus station with all our belongings. The journey is only around six hours.

Setting off early and on time, the bus is totally full as many passengers also waited over a week to cross the border in to Chile.

Our hopes are high, but short lived.

Arriving just a few kilometres from the border, our bus is stopped by guards.

You cannot go any further.


The snow is 2-metres deep at the border and buses cannot pass – you need to turn back!

But we’ve just travelled almost six hours with only a splattering of snow on the ground. No major snow in sight.

How can the snow suddenly become 2-metres deep, just at the border?

Everyone is angry.

Locals are getting off the bus and arguing with the guards as they don’t believe the story, and say it’s a political excuse.

The love/hate relationship between Argentina and Chile is no secret – although these two countries have never been to war and even though the countries share the longest border in the world.

The bus driver is cheesed off. The mood is tense. I am hoping violence won’t be next.

But, the guards are not swayed. We are not going to the border today.

Our bus is turned back for the return six-hour journey to Salta. Another day is lost.

Everyone is miserable.

A positive? We went on a bus trip today! 🙂

Arriving back at the station, we immediately bought an overnight bus ticket for this evening, to the Quiaca-Villazon border crossing and in to Bolivia. Headed back to the hostel to wait.

Salta, Argentina, South America

Our friends at the hostel greeted us with disbelief. After 12 days in Salta and a 12-hour fruitless bus trip, we are back, but cannot stay any longer.


Salta offers many types of accommodation at varying prices. My rule of thumb is to read the reviews before booking, but even then, it’s hit and miss.

Most hostels are a great meeting place and the communal kitchens are a hype of activity. Meals can be shared with other travellers and some hostels host different food and theme nights, which are fun.

It is in the Salta Por Siempre hostel that we met and instantly connected with our great empathetic friends. Extradited from the UK – well, not really – just travellers like us and would continually bump into these two along the way.

Funny how fate and paths cross.

Cathedral, Salta, Argentina, South America
Cathedral reflection – hopefully the last time for a while

Leaving Salta at last

Despondent at today’s turn of events not reaching the border, but at also missing the Atacama Desert, a new travel chapter commences tonight.

I hope that the overnight bus to the Bolivian border Quiaca and on to Villazon, arrives without any dramas. Although, we all know that this is South America and anything can happen…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Argentina at Image Earth Travel.

Salta, Argentina, South America
Bus station shoe shines

34 responses to “Introducing beautiful Salta, Argentina”

  1. Ashley's Blog Avatar
    Ashley’s Blog

    Thanks for sharing!! Amazing post and please check out my blog and I hope you enjoy what you read!! Thanks!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks for your comment Ashley and I’ll pop over to your blog and have a read.

  2. inesephoto Avatar

    Stunning photography, Nilla, and great tips on traveling – I can get to Salta now with my eyes closed 😉 Seriously, your blog is the best guide ever xxxxxx

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Awww…that’s such kind feedback Inese, thank you! It would be much better for you to actually be there though… 😉 xx

      1. inesephoto Avatar

        Oh I know, I know! xx

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        One day…all in good time.x

  3. KD Avatar

    Your photos make this trip come alive in my own living room! 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you! Hope to inspire people to visit destinations that aren’t too touristy. 🙂

  4. Patty Avatar

    Amazing pictures again dear Nilla.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Patty, thank you – many of people this time but promise the the Tren a las Nubes post will have more scenery for you. 😉

      1. Patty Avatar

        Well, I am a huge fan of your ‘people’ photographs, so I truly loved this post again.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you – you’re too kind Patty! 🙂 x

  5. Puzzles of the Soul Avatar

    Beautifully presented trip and photographs.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your kind feedback!

  6. Aixa Avatar

    What a fascinating trip that I would love to copy! El tren de las nubes, especially! I live visiting these small towns and really experiencing the culture and traditions.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ciao Aixa, thank you and I’m sure you would love this little trip.

  7. Memories & Martinis Avatar

    What a fabulous trip, loved this post 😍 such an interesting read xx

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes it was and thank you for your feedback. Hopefully, one day you will get to Salta. 😉

      1. Memories & Martinis Avatar

        You’re so welcome 😊 I hope so too after reading your post, not a place I had taken into consideration before, but definitely adding to my bucket list now 😍 xx

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Salta is underrated but then again, this is a good thing as not too touristy. 🙂

      3. Memories & Martinis Avatar

        I loveee the underrated places though, they often turn out to be the best most beautiful trips!!
        Can’t wait to see what else you post xx

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        So do I!
        While you’re waiting, check out my other South America posts. 🙂 x

  8. the eternal traveller Avatar

    I do love seeing a beautiful cathedral and this one is gorgeous. As far as having the perfect trip where nothing goes wrong, does it exist? The secret is to stay calm and go with the flow because most situations can be sorted out. It’s a shame you missed the desert though.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      South America has some stunning cathedrals – a pleasure to photograph.
      So very true…maybe ‘stay calm and eat chocolate’ is in order during times of everything turning to pulp! 😉

      1. the eternal traveller Avatar

        I like that motto!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha thought you would! 🙂

      3. the eternal traveller Avatar

        My motto is “There are no calories on holidays.” 😁

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I like your motto better than mine! 🙂

  9. Valerie Cullers Avatar

    What a great trip…just a tad frustrating! I enjoyed the post and the pictures!!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Valerie. Ah well, travel isn’t always rosy. 😉

  10. Dreamsvoyager Avatar

    Amazing pictures! Thank for sharing this interesting post! 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you and glad you enjoyed my post. 🙂

  11. Yeah, Another Blogger Avatar


    Thanks for the tour.

    Neil S.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      You are most welcome. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. 🙂

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